St. Patrick’s Day arrives bringing a reminder of a record that never was. In the 1960s Paul Desmond and guitarist Jim Hall, frequent collaborators in those days, came up with an idea for an album of Irish music. In their planningand possiblydrinking session, they decided on some of the tunes they would record, “The Tralee Song,” “Lovely Hoolihan” and “Fitzhugh or No One” among them. That, regrettably, is as far as the project went.
Ben Webster to the rescue. Although the Irish repertoire is not overloaded with songs that lend themselves to jazz interpretation, a notable exception is “Londonderry Air,” also known as “Danny Boy.” Webster had great affection for the tune, and it required little to persuade him to play it, always with emphasis on melody and emotion. Here he is in 1965 at the Jazhus Montmartre in Copenhagen. His rhythm section is Kenny Drew at the piano, the young bassist Niels Henning-Ørsted Pedersen, and Alex Riel on drums.
Happy St. Patrick’s day.